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Gonzaga sours WVU’s Sweet 16


The Dominion Post

SAN JOSE, Calif. — No timeouts. Two crucial missed free throws and one hell of a defensive possession by Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

All of that was finally the undoing of the WVU men’s basketball team March 23, at the SAP Center, as the Mountaineers fell to Gonzaga, 61-58.

In a Sweet 16 match-up that will be remembered for too many fouls and missed shots and opportunities the fourth-seeded Mountaineers let a three-point lead slip away as the top-seeded Bulldogs moved on the Elite Eight.
(AP photo)

After two offensive rebounds in the final 21 seconds, WVU point guard Jevon Carter was forced into what would have been a miracle 3-point attempt from 25 feet with Williams-Goss in perfect position.

It came up short, as did the Mountaineers on this night.

“If I had to re-do it, I would have just gone to the basket,” said Carter, who finished with 21 points and was the only WVU player who scored in double figures. “Everybody was outside on the perimeter. It was congested. I was stuck on shooting a 3. I should have just taken it to the basket.”

In a Sweet 16 match-up that will be remembered for too many fouls and missed shots and opportunities — WVU shot just 26.7 percent from the field (16 of 60) — the fourth-seeded Mountaineers let a three-point lead with 1:44 remaining slip away as the top-seeded Bulldogs (35-1) moved on the Elite Eight.

“I just let it go,” said Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews, who hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining that gave the Bulldogs a 60-58 lead. “I didn’t see it go in. I heard it.”

It was just one of many last-minute plays that will forever feel like daggers shoved into the hearts of the Mountaineers (28-9), who fell to 0-4 all-time against Gonzaga and 0-2 in the NCAA tournament.

The others:

— Tarik Phillip was called for a foul while guarding Williams-Goss nearly 40 feet from the basket. Goss, who finished with 10 points, but five turnovers, made both free throws to cut WVU’s lead to 58-57, with 1:31 to play.

— Daxter Miles Jr. missed two free throws with 1:08 remaining. WVU still led, 58-57.

— Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins grabbed the rebound on Miles’ miss and had it stolen away from him by Carter, who passed it to Nathan Adrian.

Adrian’s shot was blocked by Perkins, which set up Mathews’ 3-pointer.

“You have to give them credit,” Adrian said. “They made a good play there. He blocked the shot.”

The final 37.9 seconds will be remembered most, though.

After Gonzaga’s Silas Melson went 1-for-2 from the line to give the Bulldogs the 61-58 lead, WVU — which had no timeouts remaining — raced down the floor in hopes of tying the game.

Carter missed a contested 3, but Miles came up with the rebound, which set up another shot by Carter. It clanged off the rim.

Adrian was there for that rebound, too, but now there were less than 10 seconds remaining and WVU had no choice but to attempt another 3-pointer.

“They knew we could not give up a 3,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said of his players. “It was disappointing we couldn’t dig any of those rebounds, but at the same time we flooded out to those shooters after the rebounds.”

Shooting was a struggle throughout the game for WVU, which was just 7-of-31 from the field in the first half but somehow still tied at 30 at halftime.

“We had shots. We just didn’t make them,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “Their size bothers everybody at the rim. We didn’t make shots that we normally make.”

The loss ended the careers of Adrian, as well as fellow seniors Tarik Phillip, Teyvon Myers and Brandon Watkins.

Adrian and Watkins — both four-year players — were a part of 96 wins during their careers.

WVU fell to 1-3 in the Sweet 16 under Huggins.

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